Indian Apathy

monk-protest.jpgIndia – the largest democracy of the world; sounds extremely gratifying doesn’t it? For over sixty years now India, has jealously guarded her democracy which she claims is her only true identity in this increasingly bigoted world. And yet all our claims seem farcical when seen against the backdrop of our foreign policy, which in recent times has seen a new low.

Myanmar or Burma has for well over two decades now, been a politically disturbed region. If the recent monk protests against the ruling Junta are anything to go by, the situation has only become worse. In Burma, monks are perhaps as influential as the Junta and the protest by them with the upturned bowls has great symbolic significance. It showcases the utter disillusionment of the people with the barbaric junta which impinges on their rights and freedom.

What has India been doing over the past two weeks since the rebellion within Burma started? To put it very simply- absolutely nothing. On the contrary India still supports the Junta, both, militarily and economically. Being the guardian of democracy India should have by now voiced her dissent against the happenings within Burma. Hundreds of monks have perished and the situation is threatening to spiral out of control, and India remains a silent spectator. Where are our great ideals which we harp about, now? Is India a hypocritical nation for whom democracy is a variable term, something which she needs to have within her domain, but can care two hoots about it in other nations? Isn’t the very essence of democracy as our founding fathers envisioned it, an idea to be upheld by all people in all countries? Isn’t it our responsibility as a democracy to support the cause of justice and freedom in our own backyard?

Should India become a policeman like the United States? The answer is a vehement no. but that also does not mean that she does nothing. What India needs to do is have a foreign policy, which is strategic in nature, yes, but also one which is also ethical and moralistic to a certain degree. We cannot be a responsible nation if we keep quiet about atrocities in our neighboring countries or anywhere else for that matter, just for the sake of our vested interests.

The people of Myanmar are crying out for Indian intervention. Activists all over the globe want India to take action; at the very least to withdraw military assistance to the ruling Junta. Some might say that India is not a major player and it is China which holds the cards. This might be correct to some extent but then again that is no excuse for India to keep tight-lipped. A possible solution could be to get countries of the world together and threaten China with non attendance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Action from the Chinese side, then, would be immediate. The Olympics simply mean too much to China.

India needs to get her priorities intact. She has to stand up now or be forever remembered as a nation which turned her back to a people when they needed her the most.

Uttara Balakrishnan